Typical late British Summer weather was the backdrop for Sandown & Shanklin 2nd XV, as they kicked off their second fixture of the season, welcoming visiting Kingsclere RFC to the Fairway. The visitors were, unfortunately, let down by injury on Friday and were only able to travel with nine players. After both captains worked out which players were needed, the hosts lent three players to the visiting team, so the game could be played. This meant that the game started with 13 for the home side against a 12 sided mixed team.
The kick-off from Mitchell Farrant was hampered by very strong winds and had to be retaken twice, before for Kingsclere to be awarded the scrum. Despite the conditions it was a fast start from the hosts who, on the back of a bumper win, were aiming for another home victory, and got the start they desired with a well-worked forwards try. From the scrum, Kingsclere were pushed off the ball and Hurricanes gained possession on the halfway line. The turnover ball was shipped wide quickly to Sam Buckingham who took the ball into contact in the visitors 22. With the forwards being released from the scrum the backs went in to secure the ball. Then, playing off the returning Matt Jones playing at fly-half, the forwards ran made even more headway. Following a period of good offloading and support all-round, the ball ended up with Dan Sayers who characteristically blitzed past the remaining defenders to open up the home teams account. The extras were added to make it 7 - 0.
The restarts from the left-footed Kingsclere fly-half, assisted by the wind went very deep and gave the Sandown backline some issues. Although gathered well, with no wingers it was difficult to move the ball into space. Some slow phases off Jones at stand-off gave the home side good possession and territory.
On his debut for the 2nd XV, Alipate Ulunisau bagged himself a first-half try running in from 30 yards. Farrant kicking into the wind, added the conversion, 14 - 0. The next two tries came from the halfbacks, both mirroring each other. Firstly scrum-half Liam Little setting up Jones with the dummy on the blind side and then drawing the last man and then passing to Jones, who on a hard-line who dummied scoring, to get past the opposition winger and score under the posts.
Then a similar try moments later, as the forwards worked hard upfront led by Man of the Match, Neil Adcock, and returning Hurricane Dave Greenough, who carried well to make good ground. Then Jones stepped in at 9 and L Little at 10 in a reverse of the previous try where Jone fed the ball to Little who had a clean run through under the posts. Little the furthest player up the pitch converting his own try to make the score 28 - 0. Another try for Little in the second half set up by his brother and full back Charles Little. A great run by Charles saw him round players and make a break down the touch line, passing both the opposition winger and fullback. But only to mistake the 5 metre line for the try line and believe he scored. After realising his mistake Chalres instinctively placed the ball back and Captain Little followed up by picking the ball up on the run, leapfrogging the downed man and then scoring in the corner. The very difficult conversion which was not made, but the score was, 33-0.
Sam Buckingham was the next to get on the scoresheet and after a hattrick in the first game, he looked to continue his scoring form. Luke Hunter carried well up the middle after the kick-off and after some well-worked phases the Hurricanes switched their attack to the blindside, to debutant Joe Pettifer who showed good pace and strength, to sprint down the wing to get in behind the defence. The ball was then moved sharply from the breakdown to Buckingham, who cut a great line and showed characteristic strength and pace to glide through for a converted try under the sticks, 40 - 0.
Caught deep by Sayers and he ran hard and picked his gap, batting away the tackling arm of the defender. Once behind the defensive line he threw in his mysterious step and almost rounded the fullback but for a good tackle. He managed to keep the ball alive and offload to his supporting runner Sam Buckingham who did the same but ran it at the covering winger. Again the ball was kept alive by Buckingham and thrown back to Sayers who, now with no-one at home, managed to run in his second try. The conversion was slotted by Farrant, 47 - 0. Kingsclere did have their moments in the game and after the kick-off was held up in the air they seemed to apply the pressure. The ball was taken well by the Hurricanes fullback, deep in their own half. However, in attempting to get the pass away, possession was lost and had to be touched over the try line giving away a 5 metre attacking scrum to the away side. The scrums had become uncontested when Kingsclere had the put-in and they regained possession, after trying to fling the pass wide and some tight phases they again had a scrum. Eventually after numerous phases, they managed to score a try of their own and convert it, 47 - 7.
The last score of the half was to the hosts, deservedly belonged to Jack Winter. Winter running an incisive line off the scrum and powered through two tackles and then streaked clear to score under the sticks again with the conversion a formality, 54 - 7 at the half time break.
At the half time interval, the hosts had two players turn up, so the two further players were donated to the visitors and one on the home side to even the sides up. Joe Dove and Luke Hunter swapped to play for Kingsclere and Paul Laidler came on for the Hurricanes. Laidler hit the ground running and carried well to get the backs in behind the opposition defence. Now with a tailwind and playing down the hill the hosts used their backs and faster forwards well. Buckingham added his second of the day, as well as Alipate Ulunisau both in wide positions. Again great carrying upfront from the forwards gave front foot ball to the halfbacks who fed Buckingham and, 'Pate' who ran in his try from a good distance, after Fijian back row Bill Vatirewa span out a 15-yard pass off his weaker hand to set up the try, 64 - 7.
Matt Jones added his second off the back of a line out, where he then split the defensive line and went over for another try, 69 - 7.
Sayers completed his hat-trick with another excellent run, handing off four players in the process, to score in the corner, 74 - 7. Jones and Ulunisau also completed their hat-tricks with similar tries from 10 metres out, Jones’ try being converted and Alipate’s not converted, 86 - 7.
The pick of the tries was the third by Buckingham and the final one of the day. With a Sandown penalty 25 metres out, the Hurricanes opted to go for touch and then with space off the lineout, a cross-field kick with inch-perfect accuracy caught by Buckingham on the run ended up in the try area to rapturous applause from the onlooking crowd, 91 - 7.
An excellent game played in great spirit by both teams! With the Hurricanes topping the league with this result. Next week the 2nd XV make the short trip across to Fareham Heathens to play their 2nd XV. Everyone needed to continue this brilliant vein of form and momentum!